Learning a new skill or hobby can be a challenge when you’re on a tight budget. With little expendable cash, you can’t always justify an expensive class fee that comes with traditional education. Fortunately, there’s more to learning than the old classroom setup. Let’s explore some affordable (and sometimes free!) alternatives to costly classes.

But first, let’s understand why you might want to learn a new skill

Besides helping you beat boredom and the winter blahs, learning a new skill could open so many doors of opportunity. It all depends on what you decide to pick up. If you choose a skill or hobby that truly speaks to you, it could inspire you to take on new adventures, meet new people, or change your career.

If you’re stuck in a rut, you may be willing to overlook the cost of class if it promises you significant, positive change. However, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it’s unlikely you could afford something like a $400 class.

According to the latest data, 40 percent of Americans can’t afford to pay an unexpected expense of $400 or more. When faced with these expenses, they often turn to installment loans from a lender like MoneyKey. These online loans are fast-acting and convenient.

Online lenders rarely prioritize credit scores during their application process, so it’s an ideal option for those people with bad credit. People who’ve been denied the personal loan they need from mainstream banks often check out these other options when they need help.

If you can’t pay for an essential repair, then you definitely can’t pay for a class. Luckily, here are three ways you could still pick up a new skill without risking your finances:

1. Enroll in a MOOC

Short for Massive Open Online Courses, MOOC represents a massive shift in education. It connects students from around the world over the Internet, so you can sit in on top university classes from anywhere you call home.

There are a ton of MOOC options available, including:

  • Lynda.com: You may also know it as the portal to LinkedInLearning. Lynda is often free with a valid library account.
  • Coursera: With courses tied to universities like Yale and Stanford, Coursera is one of the biggest online course platforms in the world. Check here to see their top 10 most popular classes.
  • Udemy: This platform targets mainly professional adults hoping to upgrade existing skills, offering more than 100,000 courses online.
  • edX: Partnered with more than 100 institutions (including Harvard and MIT), edX offers access to nearly 2,000 courses.

Take some time exploring each of the above options to see what courses are currently available. While each will have a distinct curriculum, most of them overlap with courses pertaining to IT, visual arts, environmental science, and business — just to name a few!

2. Explore YouTube

While the world of MOOCs is ideal if you want to learn more about complex topics or professional skills, YouTube is a great resource for everyday how-tos and other tutorials. It’s an easy and free place to double check things like how to make a slipknot, unclog a drain, or knead dough without overworking the gluten.

You may also be able to find more traditional learning videos, like free music lessons or yoga practices.

3. Check out your library

Sometimes, learning the old-fashioned way is the best course of action. Reading books on topics that interest you could help you pick up on a new hobby, skill, or career.

To save yourself some cash, you should try borrowing these books from the library as much as possible. Even if they don’t have the specific title you’re looking for, a library will be able to suggest a good substitute. Your library may also allow its borrowers to recommend what new books it should buy, giving you the option to suggest your ‘to read’ list to your librarian.

Stick around after you check out your books, too. Your library may coordinate drop-in lectures, special events, and clubs for your community for free. Ask your librarian if there’s a calendar of events and see if there’s anything up your alley.

Broke can be woke Although traditional education tends to come with expensive tuition, you don’t have to spend a fortune to keep yourself informed. The Internet has largely democratized learning with free (or affordable) online classes and web tutorials, making it possible to learn something new without endangering your pocketbook. Check to see if something like a MOOC is right for you or if self-directed learning in the library is more your pace — but whatever you do, don’t let your tight budget stop you from trying.